Category Archives: Information Access
Today’s IT department finds itself in a precarious position: balance stakeholder demands against the need to maintain governance, compliance and control. Environments are becoming more diverse and complex while executive leadership needs CIOs and IT departments to start contributing to the bottom line through increased productivity.
As a result, many CIOs are looking at the cloud as an easier way to deliver solutions to their stakeholders without adding more chaos to their already complex internal systems. The benefits of cloud solutions are very attractive to the CIO: subscription model, no long-term commitments, easy deployment, low cost of ownership, no capital to invest, solutions that meet the individual needs of the stakeholders, etc.
But is the reduced chaos a reality? Read more and comment…
Access to organizational knowledge is important for any organization. In the financial services space, it’s a sound investment practice as well.
Take 3i Group, one of the world’s leading investment firms focused in private equity, infrastructure and debt management. Based in London, 3i has over $15 billion in total assets (around £1.5 billion) through 101 portfolio companies across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Read more and comment…
In order to work efficiently and effectively, it is vital that customer-facing employees and executives have access to the right information—contextually relevant information—at the right time. If not, the inability to engage at the right levels could be the difference between finding new revenue streams and the loss of customer loyalty and brand reputation. This is because true customer engagement focuses on an organization’s ability to understand, adapt and respond to customer needs in a completely agile, real-time fashion.
However, during a recent survey of customer service and support executives, we learned that just 13 percent of those surveyed believe employees can effectively tap into the collective knowledge of their organizations.
• 79 percent said they can only sometimes or almost never get the information they need to make informed business decisions quickly
• 51 percent said they themselves can only “sometimes” get at the information
• 28 percent noted they can “almost never” get the necessary details
• Eight percent said they could not get at the information at all
The survey data clearly demonstrates that organizations continue to struggle with the fragmentation of information at several levels—preventing executives, employees and customers alike, from making timely, informed decisions. Forward thinking companies must seek advanced alternatives to providing an interactive, real-time, one-to-one, end-to-end customer experience. When engaging with customers they must provide insight and knowledge—which is contextually relevant to that customer.
When asked how employees go about resolving customer issues with limited information resources, 73 percent of the survey respondents said their employees rely on a mix of personal networks and systems the company gives them to get their jobs done, while 13 percent said employees rely mainly on their own networks.
This alternative method for information gathering is extremely counterproductive, as employees spend inordinate amounts of time routing through mounds of irrelevant information and often come up short-handed or worse, with inaccurate information. Often, they end up “recreating the wheel.” Furthermore in some industries, this “workaround” practice has greater consequences as it breaks a slew of regulatory requirements.
In order to access the knowledge you need, embrace the new paradigm of leaving information where it resides naturally, and instantly assembling consolidated information that is contextually relevant and personalized—at that point in time—to the user. We call this engaging knowledge to engage customers, and it helps executives, employees and customers gain the insight they need to facilitate decision making, improve day-to-day efficiencies and operations and cultivate one-to-one customer relationships.
The survey results listed above are only some in a series of informative research published by Coveo. Read our new eBook for more insights and check back frequently for our latest statistics and surveys.
Let us know if this has ever happened to you – “I just wasted how much time?” or “What do you mean this already exists?”
Let’s face it. The more data available to your company, the less you know what you think you know.
Sound strange? Just think about it…and perhaps consider your own experience. Let’s say you are an engineer or product developer for a mid-sized company. Say the company has been around for 30 years, creates complex products requiring QA testing and perhaps regulatory compliance. At the same time, the company has grown to 10,000 people with 3,000 engineers split among seven different offices in three countries. Read more and comment…
We’ve all heard the expression “necessity is the mother of invention.” In today’s day and age of digital engagement and the rapid pace of change in which we all live, this statement couldn’t be more true. Today’s consumers do not want to wait. There is a need for immediate satisfaction which means proprietors need to not only react to requests faster – they must have all of the necessary information to answers any number of requests at their fingertips, in an instant.
This information immediacy issue is playing out every day in many industries in multiple formats – whether it’s a customer on the phone with his or her mobile phone provider trying to straighten out a bill, a product engineer working to determine the next phase of a development cycle and needing to tap into a side project for research data, or a sales force leader determining an appropriate engagement strategy for his or her organization. The problem is, as common as these scenarios are, the access to all of the information necessary to make insightful decisions is not as prevalent as one may think.
This is why Coveo and its customers are paving the way – truly leading the charge as innovators – bringing together vast amounts of data on our unified indexing platform across enterprise systems and social channels and making it available with contextual relevance to each and every user—we term this one-to-one, end-to-end. With a single, unified view of information across channels (think an information mash-up like you’d get on Yahoo! Finance), customer service teams discover information relationships within diverse data sources to better know and serve their customers and enable better decision making – all aimed at building a truly customer-centric organization.
As an example, one of Coveo’s customers has taken the need to be innovative to a whole new level. Priding itself on its customer service capabilities, the SaaS provider of talent management solutions with more than 5,000 customers has been recognized with several awards for its industry-leading customer service and support. In fact, it is the only company in its category that was recognized by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) for Excellence in Service Operations.
The customer boasts an impressive 94 percent customer satisfaction rating from independent studies – in part because of its innovative abilities to bring together information and analyze it in a cohesive manner, thereby better serving its customers. Within three months of its implementation of Coveo, the customer had improved its first-call resolution by 32 percent and cut case resolution time by nearly 13 percent.
As we continue to innovate alongside our customers, we are pleased to also be recognized by the TSIA for its innovation as a finalist for the 2012 Recognized Innovator Awards. Regarding our Insight Solution for Customer Service, judges have noted that:
• “Innovation is clearly seen in this excellent application. Solid business impact can clearly be seen.”
• “Excellent cases and the insight console is unique approach to providing contextual data to agents.”
As we strive to stay innovative in the solutions we offer to our customers and the community at large, we’re also exhibiting at the Technology Services World (TSW) Best Practices conference in Santa Clara, CA, this week. This event is packed with bleeding-edge organizations that are focused on providing innovative solutions to the necessities of life. It is an opportunity for us to share information with our peers and best practices to help our customers continue to bring innovative solutions to the forefront of their businesses.
It’s no secret that data is growing in size and complexity; even more importantly, the vast majority of this data is unstructured, making it difficult to categorize, understand and manipulate. It cannot be housed in traditional databases and it cannot be understood as a whole. This information is siloed, by systems, departments, geographies, and type. And now more than ever, valuable data that could impact business decisions resides in a vast network of social media channels and enterprises are struggling with a way to harness its power.
Just last week, Gartner issued its top IT trends citing that data will grow by 800 percent in five years, with 80 percent of it unstructured. Part of that is the trend they are calling “the collective,” which includes data from groups and communities and social networks outside the business.
All of this has left companies with an inability to gain a complete view or insight into their business – the people, projects, processes and customers that are at the heart of an organization – and its success.
We call this the insight deficit. And today, we have announced a new solution to help eliminate it.
Coveo 7.0 with Multi-Channel Text Analytics is the first solution to apply text analytics across an index of vast amounts of data concurrently in enterprise systems and social channels. Users can discover information relationships across diverse data sources, behind the firewall and in social channels, to better serve customers, increase product innovation and quality and support decisions made across the enterprise. Users can discover relationships, search and analyze information across billions of pieces of information from diverse data sources, both unstructured and structured.
We focused significant resources and innovation into developing capabilities within Coveo 7.0 to address not only traditional sources such as email and databases, but also social channels like Twitter and chat and calls.
For example, Coveo 7.0 now includes a connector for Twitter, allowing companies to consolidate customer feedback with product and brand information from the social channel with other enterprise information to identify issues and trends and proactively take steps to resolve them.
As a result, businesses are enabled to drive more consistent and satisfying customer experiences across all channels by uncovering the actionable insight that lives in their data.
So now, we make it even easier for you to get at the data and intelligence you need, wherever it resides. If only eliminating federal deficits were this easy.
I have been in the customer service business for more than two decades and the same discussions continue to rage on and on about customer service – “Look how great Southwest Airlines is,” and “Look how poor Comcast is,” and on and on with new examples of outstanding and poor customer service evolving every few years.
So why is Southwest Airlines so well known for great customer service? It’s because they are transparent – what you see is what you get. Because of this transparency, the people that work for Southwest are empowered to make decisions because they have insight into their customers and what they can and cannot provide to their customers. It is quite simple; when you have information at your fingertips, you can make decisions that impact the outcome of your customer’s experience.
So why can’t everyone deliver a customer experience like Southwest? They could, but most companies have put themselves in a position that doesn’t allow them to execute with the needed level of internal and external transparency to bring this additional value to their customers.
So who’s to blame? The real blame lies with executive leadership, but most often it is pinned on IT. IT has a very difficult job to do. On one side they need strong governance in place to protect their company’s environment and assets, which is a big responsibility. However, they often go too far by mistakenly locking down accessibility to their systems of record as part of a strict governance process. Guess what this does to transparency? It makes transparency inaccessible. A direct result of this access to information lock down has created the proliferation of departmental point solutions that clog the efficiency and effectiveness of most organizations.
The world wide web is a prime example of transparency. Take Facebook for example. If somebody wants to post something about an article they read online, within seconds, if someone else is interested in the same topic, they can see the new information on the web. However, if we add new information to our CRM system on a customer, it might take three – 12 months before this information is replicated and integrated into all the systems that we would need to make this new customer transparent within our organization – if ever.
Let’s look at it from the customer’s view point. At any time they can go online and see everything about your company – what you are marketing, what kind of training you have, who does your services work, where to call for support, who your CEO is, how your stock price is doing, what your latest product version entails, what other customers are saying about your products, and much, much more. The customer has a very transparent view of your company.
If we now reverse this same experience, what does your company know about its customers? You might have a name and account number in a CRM system, web hits in a marketing systems, tickets in a case management system, knowledge documents in a knowledge base, services contracts in yet another system, and on and on. Can your organization see all of this information about that customer in one interface?
All these systems of record do a great job and are likely best of breed for what they do, but because they are locked down in these IT imposed silos and organizational departments, this information is isolated to a single view of a single piece of information in a single system at a time. No ubiquitous accessibility equates to no transparency, which in turn leaves you with significant customer insight deficit. You see this all the time. Try changing your mobile phone contract. How many times do you get asked for your phone number or account number by the customer service rep?
Do you think it is reasonable that a customer in today’s global information transparency environment might expect you to know more about them as a customer than they know themselves? I certainly do. However, there remains a significant gap between what today’s customers know and expect, and the service that’s being delivered to them. I’ll explore this in more detail in my next post.
This week we announced new research that reveals some harsh realities for today’s contact center. The survey results indicate the biggest problems are caused by inefficient access to the information needed to solve customer issues, as data continues to proliferate beyond the traditional knowledge. Our survey was conducted in partnership with Omega Management Group – home to the Center for Loyalty Research and a leader in customer experience management (CEM) strategy.
Perhaps the harshest reality contact centers are facing is that the knowledgebase in which they have invested countless dollars and other resources, and which has been the center of their knowledge management strategy, is no longer enough.
While nearly 70% of customer service organizations report they’ve invested in a knowledgebase, that same percentage report that the knowledgebase does not contain the information necessary for agents to solve customer issues. For companies with more than 10,000 employees, 43% report that information that contact center agents need to access to resolve customer issues resides in more than 20 systems.
Other survey findings include the following:
- 70% of survey respondents indicated that they are facing significant challenges as a result of agents not being able to find necessary customer information.
- Respondents listed case handling time (50%), customer satisfaction (49%), and first contact resolution (FCR) (49%) as the top three challenges.
- 30% of participants estimated the impact of knowledge base operational challenges at somewhere between $100,000 to $1 million per year, including six percent who put the cost at $1 to $5 million.
We also created an infographic to depict some of the key survey findings.
Additional survey findings can be found in the official press release.
We’ve seen how the explosion of data is overwhelming practically every company, and customer service organizations are not exempt from the pressure. A negative customer experience directly impacts customer satisfaction, renewal rates, and other important metrics.
Are these challenges that your organization is facing, or that you have overcome?
Anyone who has worked in or managed a customer service organization will quickly realize that almost all operational metrics collected include some form of “time” component.
First call resolution, call hold time, and time to first contact, are just a few examples of the many time based metrics. When you think about it, the whole premise of customer service is based on time: we have SLAs that force us to respond within a certain amount of time regardless of the customer’s wishes, and we measure how quickly we write a knowledge document following the identification of a solution to a customer issue.
Combine this with our self-induced time pressures with today’s fast-paced society, and we get expectations for immediate responses to requests. This puts a tremendous amount of strain on customer support organizations. Add to this, the fact that information is doubling every year, and the number of repositories to try to manage this data continues to proliferate, the world of customer support becomes a chaotic place. IT is not impressed either.
So if everything related to the delivery of good customer support is related to time, then it is fair to suggest that time is the currency of customer support.
A common fallacy is that great customer support is simply a matter of doing things faster – picking up the phone faster, solving problems faster, and delivering knowledge to the knowledgebase faster. If that was all it took to deliver better customer support, everyone would be doing it and customer support would be universally great.
In reality, efficiency and effectiveness are at opposite ends of the spectrum. If you simply increase your speed you will likely degrade your effectiveness. The opposite is also true; if you focus on becoming more effective, you are likely to slow down your process. Therefore when you are looking for ways to improve your organization’s performance, you need to look at both ends of the spectrum at the same time.
At Coveo we believe that the speed of accessing information via a unified index, combined with the accuracy of the correlated and consolidated information, gives users the unique ability to influence both efficiency and effectiveness simultaneously.
Imagine being the person who spearheaded a project that delivered a whopping 67% improvement in efficiency of finding solutions to customer issues, and reduced the number of issues logged to R&D by 50% — in just three months. You can watch a short video on the IBM Netezza story here. How would efficiency improvements like this impact your business?
Stay tuned for my next blog where I will talk about the ROI of saving TIME.
Welcome to my first Coveo blog post. My name is Trent Parkhill, and while I have been configuring Coveo’s enterprise search platform for the past four years, I only recently joined the company. In my role as Director of Consulting on our professional services team, I will be focused on helping engineering, consulting and professional services firms understand and achieve great value from Enterprise Search 2.0.
I come to Coveo after 30 years in the consulting world, having worked as an engineer in the design of a wide variety of major projects. During this time, I also managed many information technology projects, worked as a manager in one of the company’s business units, and spent five years managing IT. This broad background has given me a unique perspective on how technology needs to operate in order to add measureable business value.
In the industry I come from, success depends on a firm’s ability to fully leverage its own information, knowledge and expertise. We have always understood this, and so with the introduction of computers in the last twenty-five years, we completed many information systems projects that attempted to solve this challenge. Most of these systems organized our information and knowledge in databases and document repositories. However, despite these attempts at organization, the most valuable information continued to migrate into less structured and more transient sources like email. And despite repeated attempts to consolidate the number of information sources, the number keeps growing, and information continues to be dispersed. Since most of these systems failed to fully achieve their goals, every few years we have embraced with renewed hope the next new database or document management software.
Several years ago, I found that enterprise search 2.0 could solve the problems we were repeatedly trying to solve with databases and document repositories – but unlike those past projects, enterprise search was rapidly and widely adopted. My former company achieved 100% adoption, payback in months, and significant financial benefits that continue to grow.
So why did Enterprise Search 2.0 succeed when so many others had failed? Partly because it addressed two of the key impediments that have limited the success of many past information systems projects: namely that this solution provides all of the information people want, without our staff having to do added work, or to change how they work! Think about it – have you succeeded in getting all of your staff to feed databases, put information into standard document repositories, or to change how they manage their electronic information?
Through a series of blog posts over the next few months, I will explore why information technology projects have a history of low adoption and underperformance, and how we might use this understanding to ensure success in our future projects. I look forward to reading your posts and know that by sharing our experiences, we can find ways to make all of our future technology deployments widely adopted and of great value to our businesses. I welcome your thoughts, experiences, and comments.